What is Lost Wax Casting?

Posted by andie ashe on

What is Lost Wax Casting?

Great Question!

Lost Wax Casting is an ancient process, found all over the world. The oldest known example is a 6,000-year old amulet from Mesopotamia. Though the materials used have been modernized, the basic steps are the same. 

Here are the steps I use:

 

          1. Model-making. I create an original model from wax, plastic, or another material (sometimes wood). 
          2. Spruing. The wax model is sprued into a treelike structure of wax that will eventually provide paths for the molten metal to flow. 
          3. Investing. A silica-based mixture (similar to pancake batter) is poured around my model. This mixture will harden around the wax, creating a mould.
          4. Burnout. The  piece is placed in a kiln, whose heat hardens the Investment into a shell, and the wax melts and runs out. Now all that remains of the original artwork is the negative space formerly occupied by the wax. My typical burnout lasts 12 hours.
          5. Vacuum-casting. After burnout, I move my piece into my vacuum caster. I separately melt my silver or bronze (what i primarily use) in a crucible with an oxy-acetylene torch until the metal is a liquid, then pour the metal into the mould.
          6. Quench. I skip this step if I have glass or pottery in my piece, but typically once the metal has been poured into the mould, you dunk the whole thing in water. This cools the metal down and breaks up the silica mould, so that your metal piece emerges.
          7. Clean-up. I then take my piece and cut the sprue off, clean it, pickle it, sand it, patina it, shine it, whatever I need to do to make the piece finished to my liking!

The entire process takes hours, but I think it is well worth the labor. Lost wax casting enables you to do things with metal that you normally can't do- I can make 3D objects, create unique textures, and make high-relief one of a kind pieces. This, coupled with the fact that I use high-grade precious metals, is why my pieces come with a slightly higher price tag. But believe me, when you buy Andie Ashe Jewelry, you can rest assured that your money is well spent on high-quality, hand-crafted jewelry, that has had hours of love and labor poured into it.


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